February 13, 2008 09:52 PM by Jennifer_Brown
For Lee-Ann Childs, preparing for an appearance on Wife Swap is nothing compared to the tireless preparation she puts into eternity. A born-again Christian with a devout belief in a literal translation of the Bible, Lee-Ann and her husband Christopher put all of their effort in bringing up their six children according to their religious standards.
Believing that the Bible is clear about the wife’s role in the family, Lee-Ann is a stay-at-home mom who enjoys being her husband’s “help-mate.” Moreover, Lee-Ann and Christopher believe in raising their children to live traditional “biblical” roles – the girls being trained to be housewives and the boy working to become man of the house. The Childs’ teenage daughters are not allowed to date, but are to “pray for a husband,” abiding by the deep belief that God will bring a man into their lives when the time is right.
Lee-Ann is about to swap with Kim Beckman-Heskett, an educated, driven career-woman. Kim’s husband, Randall is a theologian, too, yet he couldn’t be more different from Lee-Ann. Raised in a conservative religious upbringing, Randall claims to have seen and been victim of much religious abuse, and says he doesn’t trust “Bible-thumpers.” Randall, who has three masters degrees and a doctorate in theology, treats religion in a tongue-and-cheek manner, believing conservative religiousness is something to be mocked.
Randall is a stay-at-home dad, leaving Kim to go out and earn the family’s income, and together they teach their daughters to think for themselves, to believe that they can be anything they want to be, and that dating as teenagers is expected and acceptable.
It doesn’t take long at all for sparks to fly between the switched couples. Kim gets on Christopher’s bad side right away, asking controversial questions of the kids at dinner. Young daughter Columbia (billed as “the rebellious one” because she wants to be a doctor and not a stay-at-home mom) rushes to her room and prays for God to help misguided Kim and help her, Columbia, “be meek and teachable.” Kim accuses Christopher of brainwashing his children, an accusation to which he ardently agrees. “They are, and I have purposefully done that,” he says. Later, when Kim tells the kids that he’s said this, they confront him and he backpedals, calling a “family meeting,” where he explains himself until “everyone’s heart’s good.”
At the Beckman-Heskett house, Randall and Lee-Ann are not seeing eye-to-eye over Lee-Ann’s stringent Bible interpretations. “I’ve studied the Bible more hours than you will in your whole life,” Randall erupts. Later, Lee-Ann finds him curled up on his bed in tears over having “lost the peace” in his house. “You’ve really hurt me,” he cries. Yet it has to be hard to stay mad at Lee-Ann, who also begins crying, apologizing, asking for forgiveness, and offering hugs and a hearty, “I love you!”
Each of the wives attempts some rule changes, mostly surrounding the girls and dating. Kim wants the Childs girls to go “speed dating,” and Lee-Ann wants Kim’s daughters to write chaste “dating vows.” Neither plan goes well. The Childs daughters want nothing to do with speed dating, and the Beckman-Heskett daughters write “forced” vows that they don’t believe in. In a fit of anger, Christopher busts in on some “power thought time” (time set aside for the girls to think about famous strong women) after the older children tattle thatthey think Kim is taking advantage of Columbia’s rebelliousness. Christopher whisks Columbia away from the house and forbids Kim from talking to her again.
Kim tries some outreach with Christopher, sitting him down and claiming, “I feel like a leper in this house.” But Christopher’s not interested in discussing what he thinks is Kim’s attempt at leading his children off track and he walks away from her.
The couples reunite and Randall tries to debate religion with the Childs couple. He accuses Christopher of not being as secure in his religion as he claims to be, because he reacted to Kim’s changes with fear and insecurity. Christopher disagrees, declaring himself “Head of Household, Watcher on the Wall, and Gatekeeper” of his family, period.
Since the Swap:
The Childs family is as rooted in their religious beliefs as ever before; however, Christopher now cooks for the family.
There are no real changes for Kim’s family, except they now include Columbia Childs in their prayers.
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Photo Courtesy: ABC